March 30, 2023

Woodworking Terminology: A Glossary of Common Terms 

Woodworking terminology is a list of terms used in the industry. Before you start working on a project, you should familiarize yourself with these terms, so you do not have to struggle with the process. If you read manuals, you will not have to look up woodworking terms as you read the manual. Knowing the terms is part of your preparation phase. Other woodworking terms are defined below.

Definition of woodworking

Woodworking refers to making objects from wood, such as cabinets and furniture. It includes wood carving, joinery, carpentry, and wood turning. In other words, woodworking means shaping, sawing, sanding, smoothing, polishing, and making products in any shape or form from wood.

Overview of the importance of understanding woodworking terminology

Woodworkers who plan to be confident must learn the language to understand instructions and tips. This terminology helps you understand the subject, identify wood items, and understand the uses of certain wood pieces of equipment. Multiple woodworking terms are necessary to learn when you start woodworking to understand the language of the people who make items using wood. They may be difficult at first, but eventually, you become familiar with them.

Types of Woodworking



It is a process that involves installing items made out of wood, such as installing cabinets, floors, and doors. There are constructing, repairing, and installing wooden structures and materials. Carpentry goes in line with the construction industry (

Examples of carpentry tasks

Rough carpentry

Rough carpentry involves planning, building, and maintaining structures of buildings. It may be framing or roofing. Rough carpentry requires knowledge of structural integrity and cost efficiency. Rough carpentry involves quickly assembling the required parts of a building, such as posts, beams, and rafters.


Joisters construct floor joists, where they fix floor surfaces. It requires less detailed work in favor of structural integrity and durability. They require the use of detailed processes for a polished product.

Trim carpentry

Trim carpenters can work in building trims and moldings of a room. They specialize in materials and uses of materials. That includes mantles, cornices, skirting boards, architraves, and other structures. There are different categories of trim carpentry, such as green and scenic carpentry. 

Cabinet carpentry

Cabinet makers specialize in carpentry on building cabinets for kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and other building areas. Cabinet makers can also focus on building other furniture that involves woodworking, such as patio furniture and indoor furniture sets.

Ship carpentry

Ship carpenters focus on shipbuilding. They can ensure that a woodworker meets demands, structurally and in appearance. Shipbuilders may construct replicas of previously built ships, building modern-day ship portions for cruise liners, freight ships, or smaller boats.



Joinery is a type of woodworking that involves joining pieces of wood, engineered lumber, or synthetic substitutes to produce more complex items. Joinery is there to hold wood together strongly and securely. Joinery is found almost everywhere in furniture, windows, doors, and flooring.

Examples of joinery tasks

Butt Joint

A butt joint is a basic wood joinery that involves joining one piece of wood butts into another at a right angle or square to the other board. Fasten using mechanical fasteners. This type of joint is used in wall framing on construction sites.

Mitered Butt Joint

A mitered butt joint is almost like a butt joint, except the two boards join at an angle instead of a square. The mitered butt joint does not show any end grain, making it appealing but not strong.

Half-Lap Joint

The half-lap joint is where half of the two boards joined are removed, so the two boards join together flush with one another. That weakens the strength of the two adjoining boards but is stronger than the butt joints. 

Tongue and groove joint

When joining two boards square to one another along a long edge, you can butt the joint together and hold it with fasteners. However, the tongue and groove joint is much stronger and provides more adjoining surface areas.

Mortise and tenon joint

The mortise and tenon is a classic wood joinery method amongst the strongest and most elegant methods for joining wood. Learn methods for creating tight, beautiful mortise and tenon joints.

Biscuit joint

The biscuit joint is another method for joining boards along the edges, like the tongue and groove joint. It cuts slots and uses beech wood wafers and biscuits to hold the wood boards in place. It is a modern woodworking joint. Learn how to cut consistent slots for reliable results from biscuit joinery.



Wood finishing is protecting and polishing wooden surfaces, making their appearance richer and deeper. Wood finishes improve the appearance of wood surfaces (

Examples of finishing tasks

Penetrating Finishes

Penetrating wood finishes give a more natural look as they enter deep into the surface of the wood. Use a rag to add a protective layer of wood oils to ensure better sheen and surface penetration. 

Surface Finishes

Surface finishes are applied on the top of the wood to create a protective layer. It makes a better choice for furniture and materials exposed to much wear and tear.

Basic Woodworking Tools

Hand Tools


Hand tools are woodworking tools held using a hand and operated without electricity. They operate with human force. 

Examples of hand tools


A screwdriver is a tightening tool used to drive in screws with slotted heads.


These are tools with a metal head used to hit other items like nails. Most hammers have a front and a back. That is the nail-hitting side and the nail-removing side.


Pliers are tools created when two metal pieces are joined at a fulcrum point. That multiplies the pressure you exert using your hand to cut and shape wires or remove nails. 

Power Tools


A power tool is a power-driven hand tool.

Examples of power tools

Circular saw

A Circular saw is a power saw which uses a toothed or abrasive disc or blade to cut different materials. A rotary motion spinning around an arbor is used during the process. 


A jigsaw power tool consists of an electric motor and a reciprocating saw blade.


A sander is a circular power tool that functions in a rotating motion. The wood tool operates by an electric motor that runs at a high speed.

Common Woodworking Terms


It is a woodworking tool used to remove rough surfaces on wood and reduce its size.

Examples of using a plane


It involves cutting a chamfer with a block plane.


Using a smoothing plane involves smoothing and polishing the surface of the wood.


It gives a straight edge with a jointer plane. 


A saw is a tool with a tough blade, wire, or chain with a hard-toothed edge. It cuts through wood.

Examples of using a saw

Hand saw

A hand saw is a staple for home toolboxes. It has long, flexible blades with teeth for continuous sawing.

Crosscut saw

It is for cutting joints or sawing a plank to length.

Pruning saw

It makes quick work of trimming branches in hard-to-reach areas.


Wood glue is an adhesive used to bond pieces of wood together (

Examples of using glue


Epoxies are used in woodworking to fill in cracks and voids.


PVA glues are for use with porous substances such as wood. 


It is a long-bladed hand tool with a beveled cutting edge and a handle. It cuts or shapes wood. 

Examples of using a chisel

Mortise cut

It removes thin slices by tapping the chisel with a hammer.

Paring cut

It shaves the wood.

Chopping cut

It removes chunks of wood.


A dowel is a cylindrical rod made from wood, plastic, or metal for holding together components of a structure.

Examples of using a dowel

Furniture making

It is for furniture shelf supports.

Reinforce butt joints 

Dowels work as structural reinforcements in cabinet making and in numerous other applications.

Toy making

It makes moveable game pieces.


In conclusion, there are multiple terms you should know as a woodworker to make the process bearable. Amongst the woodworking items needed are tools that a woodworker should have for cutting, finishing, and sanding. I assume you have learned more about woodworking terminology from the article above.

David D. Hughes

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